In order to respond to decreasing demands on travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, American Airlines and Delta are offering different buyout options to employees. The coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns have changed travel for the time being. People are traveling less both voluntarily and as a result of restrictions on movement due to lockdowns. When they do travel, they face different procedures at airports that include less contact with airline workers (some airlines have travelers scan their own boarding passes, for example), the required use of face coverings, and eliminating selling food and drinks on the plane.
It appears that the airlines are now viewing the reduction in business as a more long-term occurrence, and the reductions that they are making to the size of their companies are intended to help the companies adjust to a long-term reduction in travel demand. This indicates a certain pessimism about the future, but the airlines’ caution is warranted, especially because there is so much uncertainty about the future.
If airlines want to keep their travelers safe, and attract new business once people begin to travel more, they need to prove to their customers that they are taking measures to be safe. Obviously, customers need to feel generally safe in order to travel, and this depends on the state of the world and the areas to which the customer is traveling. Customers, however, need to be confident that the airline is taking measures to keep them safe and airlines should demonstrate and prove that they are taking steps to prevent transmission of the coronavirus and to prevent superspreader events.
If the decrease in the demand for flights leads to extremely expensive flights, that can lead to a further decrease in demand for flights. Airlines should keep in mind that their customers are also facing a big recession, and that high airfare prices will discourage travel.
These times are challenging for everyone, and airlines are no exception. Ultimately, restoring and preserving consumer confidence will help airlines stay in business and bounce back once things improve.